By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
Aug. 21, 2008 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Polish counterpart agreed to place 10 missile defense interceptors in Poland to defend against threats from Iran and North Korea, not to weaken Russia, the secretary said. "This is an agreement that, of course, will establish a missile defense site here in Poland, a missile defense site that will help us to deal with the new threat to the 21st century of long-range missile threats from countries like Iran or from North Korea," Rice said yesterday at the Polish presidential palace in Warsaw.
The deal to place the equipment on Polish soil some 115 miles from Russia's westernmost frontier comes as NATO and international community members ratchet up pressure on Moscow to remove its forces from Georgia. The United States and Poland have maintained that the timing of the deal is unrelated to the ongoing Russia-Georgia conflict.
But Russia, which has opposed the positioning of missile defense parts in Poland, reacted angrily to the agreement, reportedly warning of a possible attack against the former Soviet satellite.
Asked about the tough rhetoric emanating from Moscow, Rice echoed comments made by NATO's secretary general during an Aug. 19 news conference.
"I want to associate myself with what Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said yesterday: that's pathetic," Rice told CNN in an interview yesterday.
"I frankly think that anybody who can do the math would know that 10 interceptors in Poland is not going to do anything to a Russian deterrent that has thousands of warheads," she added.